I hope all of you had some fun with the original Study In Blue that we worked on last time, and that you were able to build up to a good speed. If your Aunt Lisa doesn’t think you’re the best thing since sliced yoghurt by now – try this; she’ll love you forever anyway, but Uncle Darren will start taking you very seriously.
If you listen to any amount of blues, you will notice one or two little touches that really make something swing, and we’re going to look at one of those elements in this lesson. I did toy with the idea of introducing Marching Bass in this lesson, but decided against it after I started drafting the words; it’s quite chunky, so we’ll look at it next time.
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Right, then, down to business – The End
No, it’s not what you’re thinking. What is that little bit of any blues melody that really gets you fired up and wanting more? It’s the End, or more particularly, it’s the last two bars of the twelve, and we call them the Turnaround. In these two bars, we can either bring the whole piece to a satisfactory conclusion or kick the piece off into another twelve bars. Classical theorists will know that I’m talking about messing around with a Perfect Cadence here. What am I babbling on about? Let’s have a look at some music
Those of you who are of a nervous disposition have probably gone weak at the knees by now. “What has he done here?” you are asking. “What are all those brackets about? Is there life after lunch? And, why has he written 3’s all over the place?”
At this point, I am going to recommend that if you haven’t read two other lessons on this site:
Before You Accuse Me talks about Triplets and the Blues Shuffle and (Going To) Kansas City talks about the Turnaround.
Why have I written 3’s all over the place? Because we’re using Triplets, that’s why. Have you ever noticed how a lot of blues playing feels like it’s built round a count of three? This is how it’s done – what we do when we play Triplets is play three notes in the space normally taken up by two; which is proof positive that three into two will go if you squeeze it.
The music plays at 60 bpm – here’s a MP3 which will give you the idea (clickety-click)
Now let’s look at what you’re actually going to do.
You’ll notice that each beat in the first bar plays an open 6th string – this should cause no problems; we played that with the thumb in the last lesson, and I’d like you to play those four notes with the thumb again here. Play it a few times
To play the triplet patterns – you’re going to get sneaky. Put your 4th finger on the 4th fret of the first string. Put your third finger on the 4th fret of the 3rd string. Why the 3rd and 4th fingers? You’ll find out at the end of the next bar. You’re going to play those three notes using the index and middle fingers of your picking hand using a simple “i-m-i” pattern – play the 3rd string with the index finger, the first string with the middle finger and then the third string with the index finger again. You’re going to use that pattern for each of those three sets of triplets. How does this look in practice? Like this:
You’ll see that I’ve sketched out the whole bar. Which fingers should you use on your fretting hand? To play the pattern in the third beat of the bar, slide the 3rd and 4th fingers down to the third fret of the 1st and 3rd strings, and in the 4th beat slide them down again to the second fret. This is not easy – your fingers will come off the strings, you’ll be somewhere near one of the frets and it will sound dead, and these things are all to be expected. Don’t worry – take it gently and it does come with practice. Use this to replace bar 11 in Study in Blue.
Let’s look at the final bar. No problems with those quavers in the opening beat – three open strings. Play the bottom string with your thumb and the top string with either your middle or your ring finger (I’ve played it both ways to make sure it can be done) and then use the thumb to play the open 5th string. Play our famous “Blue note” in the second beat using the thumb and fret the note with the 1st finger of your fretting hand. In the third beat, play the 5th string using the thumb and the 2nd finger of your fretting hand to fret the note. OK so far? Leave the 2nd finger where it is, and let that note ring until the end of the bar. This is where you find the benefit of using the 3rd and 4th fingers in the previous bar – bang the 4th finger back down on the 2nd fret of the top string, and the 3rd finger down on the 2nd fret of the 3rd string and play that “i-m-i” pattern again. It looks like this:
Again, play the MP3 so that you can hear exactly what is being done, and then replace your existing 12th bar with what we’ve done here.
Whilst developing this lesson, a suggestion was made that on the last beat of the last bar you could substitute a B7 chord (x2120x or x21202) for the triplets. This sounds really good, too.
And there you have it. A simple turnaround that just sounds so good. If you replace the 3rd and 4th beats of the last bar with a big fat “E Major” chord then you’ll find it sounds good as an ending. The Classical Theorists are asking “Where’s the perfect cadence then?” – it’s the B7 in the 3rd and 4th beats of our new bar 12 resolving to the E Major tonic in the first beat of the next bar. If we finish on a chord of E in the 3rd beat, then we’re created an Imperfect Cadence.
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